Football Blog

2017: Week 15: Helix Game Site in Question

Rick : December 6, 2017 1:37 pm : Football

Note:  Westlake Village Oaks Christian closed school today because of smoke and ash from the nearby wildfires. Helix is scheduled to play there Friday night, Dec. 7.

The field at Southwestern  faces south to North but the football moved east.

Helix, Steele Canyon, and Monte Vista, from the two Grossmont leagues in the foothills of San Diego County, won championships and El Centro Southwest and Calexico Vincent Memorial from the Far East in Imperial Valley also took home hardware.

El Camino, from the oft-ballyhooed Avocado League, provided a break in the trend.

All five division winners will move on to the Southern California championship “bowl series” games this week, prelude to the state championships Dec. 15-16.  Five qualifiers from Open through D-1A will play at Hornet Stadium on the Sacramento State campus.

The winner between Helix and Westlake Village Oaks Christian will go to Sacto for a game on Dec. 15.  Other division winners will compete Dec. 16 at sites to be determined.

The five other San Diego Section champions have been slotted in D-3A through D-6AA.


Placed in the highest alignment behind the Open Division, which will be settled by Santa Ana Mater Dei and Concord De La Salle on Dec. 16, Helix (12-1) is presented with another daunting challenge on the road, 165 miles away, unless evacuations and continual fire danger force a change of venue.

The Highlanders led favored Mission Viejo, 28-25, with two minutes remaining and had the ball, but a fumble recovered by the Diablos in Helix territory led to a 32-28 Mission Viejo victory in 2015.  The Orange County team went on to defeat San Jose Bellarmine, 24-0, and wrap a 16-0 season.

Oaks Christian is 12-2 and winner of its last nine after an uneven start in which the Lions lost their opener to West Hills Chaminade, 47-10, and a game 5, 38-20 decision to Murrieta Valley.  They’ve outscored their opponents by an average score of 36-11 since and are No. 8 in Cal-Hi Sports’ Top 50.

Helix, which jumped from 20th to Cal-HI’s 13th this week, has solid quarterbacking in Carson Baker and can pound the ball with sophomore running back Elelyon Noa. The Scots will face the exponential need to protect the ball and play their game in what would be a hostile setting, much like 2015.

Their Cal-Hi rankings fairly close, both teams are closer in the analytics department.  Oaks has a computer score of 66.5, according to Cal, Helix 65.5.

A nagging, opening game loss of 23-6 to Lancaster Paraclete, which lost to Oaks Christian, 30-21, seems to have cost Helix more in the ratings.

The Pick:  Helix 34, @Oaks Christian 28.

Winner meets Northern champion Fresno Central or Folsom.


Steele Canyon (10-4), the seventh seed in the San Diego Section Open Division, won its last six after blowout losses of 41-7 to helix and 51-14 to Grossmont, and knocked off top seed Ramona, 33-29, in the finals.  Orange El Modena (12-2) played in a softer North Hills League of Orange County.  Steele has a 41.4 Cal-Preps score, El Modena 40.

The Pick:  Steele Canyon 24, @El Modena 20.

Winner meets Northern champion Sutter or Half Moon Bay.


El Camino (8-5) overcame the loss of suspended coach Jerry Ralph, who had put the Wildcats in position for a run this season, and rallied behind Mike Hobbs, the former El Centro Central mentor, with strong play through the playoffs.  Crenshaw, a member of the weak Los Angeles Coliseum League, was beaten by Harbor City Narbonne, 48-7, in the L.A. City finals.

The Pick: @El Camino, 35, Crenshaw 21.

Winner meets Northern champion Placer or Salinas.


El Centro Southwest (13-0) won its first championship since joining the San Diego Section in 2000 and was one of the three unbeaten finalists to survive last weekend at Southwestern (Ramona and San Diego, the two others, each went down).

San Joaquin Memorial (11-2) lost to Fresno Edison and Fresno Bullard, who finished a combined 13-12,  in league play but got hot with four playoff wins and will have to overcome an expected seven-hour trip of 430 miles down U.S. 99, through Los Angeles, east to Palm Springs and South to the Imperial County.

The Pick:  San Joaquin Memorial 30, @El Centro Southwest 27.

Winner meets Northern champion Milpitas or Moraga Campolindo.


Monte Vista (8-5) and coming hard, will play at an interesting venue, Anaheim’s Western High, better known as the alma-mater of Tiger Woods.  Coach Ron Hamamoto, with 218 career victories, will send big running back Jahmon McClendon against Anaheim Katella (12-1).

The Pick:  Katella 41, Monte Vista 28.

Winner meets Northern champion Oakland McClymonds or East Nicolaus.


Huntington Park (11-3) won the Los Angeles City Section after finishing third in the Eastern League.  Calexico Vincent Memorial (11-2) will be at home at nearby Calexico High.

The Pick:  Huntington Park, 27, Calexico Vincent Memorial 20.

Winner meets Northern champion San Francisco Gallileo or Rio Vista.


The dream season of San Diego High ended with a 71-48 loss in D-IV to Monte Vista, whose Jahmon McClendon, a tall, upright runner in the mold of pro football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson, wore down the Cavers with 8 touchdowns…San Diego, which led, 22-21 in the second quarter, finished with a 12-1 record and tied the 1916 Hilltoppers team for most wins…Helix’ 26-19 victory over Mission Hills attracted a standing-room crowd of 9,304 to Southwestern College, not an easy place to get to on a Friday orSaturday night, but the best locale in the area, by far…Helix thus earned the No. 1 ranking in the final Union-Tribune poll….

Rank Team 2017 Points Week 11
1. Helix (28) 12-1 280 2
2. Mission Hills 12-1 251 1
3. San Marcos 9-3 174 5
4. Torrey Pines 7-5 173 9
5. El Camino 8-5 157 NR
6. Steele Canyon 10-4 129 NR
7. Ramona 12-1 104 3
8. Madison 8-3 86 8
9. El Centro Southwest 13-0 47 NR
10. Eastlake 10-3 42 NR

Points awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.

NR: Not Ranked.

Others receiving votes:  La Costa Canyon (7-4, 39 points),  St. Augustine (7-4, 23), Monte Vista (8-5, 10),  The Bishop’s (9-1, 8), Oceanside (6-7,  4), Grossmont (7-4, 3).

Voters (28 sportswriters, sportscasters, officials): John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune; Terry Monahan, Don Norcross, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff, Jim Lindren, Union-Tribune correspondents; Paul Rudy, Brandon Stone, Rick Willis, KUSI Chl. 51; Adam Paul, East County; Ramon Scott, East County; Bodie DeSilva, San Diego; Ted Mendenhall, Taylor Quellman, The Mighty 1090; Steve Brand, San Diego Hall of Champions; Troy Hirsch, Fox 5 San Diego; Rick Smith,; Jerry Schniepp, John LaBeta, Carlton Hoggard, CIF San Diego; Raymond Brown,; Montell Allen, MBASports-SDFNL Magazine; Bob Petinak,  1360AM; John Kentera, Prep Talent Evaluator; Steve (Biff) Dolan, Mountain Country 107.9FM; Jim Arnaiz, Mike Dolan, John Carroll, CIF Football Tournament Directors.











1945-46: “We Got (Expletive)!”

Rick : December 4, 2017 4:30 pm : Football

The cry is as old as the game.  Visiting teams screaming that the referees or the timekeeper did them unjustly.

Huntington Beach certainly had those thoughts when the Oilers, 4-0 on the season and a reported 20-1 in 1944-45, were on the short end of a 38-37 score at San Diego in a game punctuated by a wild finish and “pandemonium, with fans spilling onto the floor,” according to The San Diego Union.

Huntington Beach had taken a 37-36 on a free throw after Hilltopper Ben Cendali fouled with two minutes remaining in the game.  Cendali got back into his team’s good graces when he converted a free throw to tie the score, and then, in the final seconds, scored on another trip to the foul line.

As time was running out, or ran out, depending on whose side you were on, the Oilers’ Elmer Coombs launched a desperation shot from behind the halfcourt line that drained the basket but was disallowed.

The Neither the Union or Evening Tribune stories carried a byline, indicating that the sports desk probably received a game call from Cavers coach John Brose or a student representative.

The Huntington Beach coach apparently claimed that there was no  moment that declared the game was over, charging that the starter pistol used to signal the ends of periods of play was faulty and never went off.

And no one heard the timer blowing a whistle that the game was over, according to the newspaper  reports.

It also was reported that the game timer was Amerigo Dini, a Cavers football letterman who had to be filling in for a faculty member or coach.

Cendali bailed out Cavers against visitors

And that’s the way it was on the cool, overcast evening of Dec. 16, 1945, as the city, relieved that  war was over, prepared for the most joyous Christmas in years.


Midterm graduates, the bane of coaches, were leaving school around the first of February since the early days of the CIF.

Southern Section historian John Dahlem pointed out that the practice of students accumulating credits and graduating early probably began to diminish in the 1950s.  Dahlem was part of one of the final midterm graduations in Southern California when he and others got their diplomas in 1961 at Santa Monica High.

San Diego High had lost players for years, even during the 1935-36 Southern Section championship season but that team was talented enough to overcome.

Pre-war coach Merrill Douglas had returned from the Army but would not take over again until the 1946-47 school year, leaving the wartime mentor, John Brose, to cope with the departure of four starters.

That’s four, as in a starting lineup of five.   Wally Pietila, Norm Scudder, Bob Grant, and Lee Bowman all left early, along with Elfego Padilla and Joe Castagnola, six of the top seven.

Brose coached splendidly in Douglas’ absence, his teams posting a 48-12 record in Brose’s three seasons, including 20-5 this year, but the Hilltoppers flattened out with a 4-4 record after a 16-1 start.

Grant, a three-year letterman at center, was the leading scorer in his Victory League games, averaging 15 points a game.

Midterm graduate Bob Grant still led the all-Victory League team.

An assembly honoring the mid-term graduates saw the team’s most-valuable player trophy go to Grant and Pietila received the Parents Teachers’ Association award after earning 20 grades of A. Pietila was scheduled to enroll at the University of California at Berkeley.

The players’ last game was a 49-30 victory over Point Loma as Grant led the way with 18 points.

Brose pointed out that “Pietila, Castagnola, and Bowman actually are Bees, but their play elevated them.   It is unusual for a B exponent player starting on varsity.”

The 5-foot-5, 128-pound Pietila, one of the Hilltoppers’ starting forwards, just missed qualifying for Class C, based on the exponents of height, weight, and age.


Ish Herrera put Foothillers ahead of Cavers

Brose began his team’s second season by inserting reserves Bob McCommins, Jerry Dahms, John Holloway, Charlie Coffey, and Clyde Barnes into the rotation with junior Ben Cendali, who became the team’s leading scorer, averaging nine points in seven league games.

The Hilltoppers had no time to ease into the transition.  Their next opponent was Grossmont, like San Diego, with a 4-0 record.

The Hilltoppers led, 26-25, late in the game, but the Foothillers’ Ish Herrera drained a 30-foot set shot and Ralph Lamp added a basket for a 29-26 victory. A 48-36 loss to Hoover dropped San Diego into third place tie with Coronado at 5-2 in the final standings, while Grossmont and Hoover, each 6-1, tied for first.


San Diego, with an invitation from the Beverly Hills Tournament, switched its Victory League game from Feb. 22 to Feb. 12.

The bid undoubtedly came before the midterm graduation, when the Cavers were undefeated in league play and with one of the best records in Southern California.

Hoover, as winner of the first Beverly event in the 1941-42 season and in the resumed event in 1944-45, also was part of the field Grossmont expected an at-large bid, but The San Diego Union cited a “misunderstanding” between Beverly Hills officials and the Southern Section and the Foothillers were out.

Hoover’s bid for a third consecutive Beverly Hills title stalled against Santa Barbara.  The Cardinals led, 19-8, at the half, and 26-19 after three quarters but fell to the eventual tournament champion, 33-32.  San Diego started fast, 43-13 over Lawndale Leuzinger, but went home after a 43-24 loss to Anaheim.


The Victory League campaign ended on Feb. 22.  The Southern Section playoffs would not begin until March 1.  Hoover and Grossmont first engaged in a playoff to determine the league champion and drew an estimated 2,200 persons to the reported 1,800-seat capacity Men’s Gym at San Diego State.

A 49-29 victory sent the Cardinals into the first round of the Southern Section tournament and they responded with a 54-44 win over Brawley.  The season ended when South Pasadena, 27-2 coming into the game, defeated the Cardinals, 33-23, in the semifinals.

Hoover finished the season and Rickey Wilson’s tenure as coach with a 13-6 record, following seasons of 10-4, 11-4, 14-5, and 16-1. The best in school history far into the 21st century.

Hoover’s Jack Seiquist participates in the photo op of the day.

Wilson’s overall record of 64-15 and .810 winning percentage remained as the best in school history through a succession of mostly successful coaches through the turn of the century.


…Herb Hoskins?

The man coaching the Brawley Wildcats in their first-round playoff game against Hoover looked familiar.

Hoskins had been the Sweetwater football coach two decades before, posting a 40-29-3 record from 1919 to 1928.  He moved to the Imperial Valley after leaving the Red Devils and taught chemistry at Brawley, adding basketball resume before the 1943-44 campaign.


Hoover won its 15th consecutive Victory League game by defeating Kearny, 39-21.  The Cardinals had not lost in league play since 1943-44, but Kenny Tennison’s basket for Grossmont with five seconds remaining gave the Foothillers a 34-33 victory, ending the Cardinals’ streak.


Play resumed in the Chino Invitational after wartime hiatus following the 1941 tournament…defending champion Hoover dropped a 41-39 decision to Burbank in the semifinals…San Diego bowed, 32-24, to San Bernardino in the semis…lack of local competition annually forced Hoover and San Diego to the road…the Cardinals began their season with a U,.S. 395 trip to San Bernardino )29-26 loss) and Ontario Chaffey (37-34 win)…Grossmont went East, through snow in the Laguna Mountains, and was beaten, 24-20, at El Centro Central…San Diego warmed up for league games with 22-13 and 36-29 victories at Compton and Redondo Beach Redondo, respectively…the Cavers went North late in the season to defeat a group of prisoners at the Chino’s Men’s Institute, 37-34,and at Huntington Beach, 21-15…Coronado’s Dave Melton\on was the leading Victory League scorer, averaging 12.1 points with 85 in seven games…Melton played 13 years ibn baseball, most in the high minors, and had cups of coffee with the Kansas City A’s in 1956 and ’58…Melton hit .299 with 116 runs batted in and 19 home runs for San Francisco in the PCL in 1955…St. Augustine defeated Santa Monica. St. Monica’s, 24-13, in a Southland Catholic League contest on an outdoor court at Navy Field…Grossmont took season high point honors in a 63-10 rout of San Diego Vocational…Bob Grant scored 20 points in San Diego’s 60-22 win over Kearny….







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2017 Week 14: More Picks (Guesses) For Finals This Week

Rick : November 28, 2017 3:39 pm : Football

The so-named expert is trying his hand again as 10 San Diego Section teams come together for the playoff finals at Southwestern College Friday and Saturday.

I tied the Union-Tribune’s resident genius, prep honcho John Maffei, each of us picking seven out 10 winners last week.  My bad was a stinko choice of Hilltop over El Centro Southwest.  I lost a close call when Mission Hills edged Torrey Pines and was surprised when Monte Vista beat University City.

Numbers in parentheses following school names below are seedings.


Helix (2) vs. Mission Hills (1).

There’s more at stake than a San Diego Section championship.  Seedings  in the upcoming Southern California bowl game playoffs also will come into play for all division winners.  Helix (10-1), now ranked 20th in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, can take it to the house from anywhere on field, as the Highlanders did numerous times last week, building a 48-6 halftime lead that ended with a 62-41 win over San Marcos. Quarterback Carson Baker will have a tough matchup against Mission Hills’ Jack Tuttle.  The Grizzlies, who hold a 49-27 win over San Marcos, have gotten to 12-0 for the first time in school history and are Cal-Hi’s No. 8 team. Coach Chris Hauser’s club was 12-2 in 2013, when it beat Helix, 24-21, in the semifinals.

The Pick:  Helix, 42-35.


El Camino (1) vs. Eastlake (3).

It doesn’t speak well that the Wildcats are the top seed in this division with a 7-5 record, indicative of a so-so field, although Eastlake is 10-2. Scores against common opponents are tight.  El Camino beat Carlsbad, 31-24, and Olympian, 29-21.  Eastlake beat Carlsbad, 24-21, and Olympian, 27-20. El Camino comes from the stout Avocado League, Eastlake from the decidedly thinner Metro Mesa.

The Pick: Eastlake 24, El Camino 21.


Ramona (1) vs. Steele Canyon (7).

The Bulldogs (12-0) rank No. 40 in the state, according to Cal-Hi Sports.  Steele Canyon (8-4) has won 4 in a row, but never got whiff in the weekly Union-Tribune Top 10.

The Pick:  Ramona 38, Steele Canyon 28.


El Centro Southwest (1) vs. (2) Santa Fe Christian.

Southwest (12-0) has been virtually unchallenged, outscoring its opponents by an average score of 44-7.  The only close game was against Brawley, which battled but lost, 20-12. Mount Miguel (7-5) dropped a 39-21 decision in the quarterfinals, after which Matadors Coach Shaun McDade leveled some howitzer-like shots at the officiating crew.  My disrespect for Imperial Valley teams other than Brawley bit me in the back side when I suggested that Hilltop would top the Eagles, who sent the Lancers home with a 62-18 whipping.

Santa Fe Christian (8-4) represents a savvy program from the Coast, one of the best small school circuits in the state.  The also-named Eagles are making their seventh trip to the finals since 2001 and ninth overall.  They’re used to competing against larger schools.  Southwest has an enrollment of about 2,100, compared to Santa Fe’s less than 450. Santa Fe’s playoff 63-14 rout of La Jolla and 14-12 verdict against San Pasqual look good.

The Pick:  Santa Fe Christian 34, El Centro Southwest 28.


San Diego (2) vs. Monte Vista (4).

San Diego is on the brink of history.  Its win over El Centro Central last week elevated the Cavers to a 12-0 record, matched in school history only by the 1916 Hilltoppers. The Cavers’ success and the prospect of a 13th victory after decades of mediocrity is the feel-good story of the season.  Neutral observers of last week’s fourth-quarter comeback noted, however, the consecutive dead ball fouls at El Centro’s three-yard line, an example of a lack of poise, perhaps fueled by the Cavers’ over-the-top stadium public address.

Monte Vista (7-5), an in-and-outer most of the season, stepped up and won two tough playoff games, including 30-21 over top seed University City last week.  The victories sent coach Ron Hamamoto passed a couple legendary colleagues on the all-time list.  Hamamoto now is fifth with 217 victories, behind Herb Meyer (339), John Carroll (248), Bennie Edens (239), and John Shacklett (229) and ahead of the retired Gil Warren (216) and Ed Burke (215).  Hamamoto can continue his neck-and-neck battle next year with Valley Center’s Rob Gilster, who closed the season with 216 victories.

The Pick:  Monte Vista, 28, San Diego 21.


Games were close for the most part and the CIF ratings system held strong.  Of the six championship contests, 9 of the 12 teams represented are No. 1 or 2 seeds.  This includes Calexico Vincent Memorial and Crawford, which played last week for the D-V title, Vincent winning, 45-3 after leading 19-3 in the third quarter.

Mission Hills scored the winning touchdown in a 20-17 battle with Torrey Pines by crossing the Falcons’ goal with 1:12 remaining.  San Diego overcame a 22-12 disadvantage with under nine minutes left to beat El Centro Central, 26-22. El Camino edged Oceanside 49-42 on a touchdown with 10.8 seconds left. A failed two-point conversion attempt with 4:27 remaining doomed Granite Hills, 28-27 loser to Steele Canyon.



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2017: Luther Hayes, 78, Lincoln’s All-Time Hornet

Rick : November 25, 2017 2:22 pm : Football

Fledgling Lincoln High began to create its great athletic legacy after Luther Hayes, a vital member of San Diego high’s 1955 Southern California championship team, transferred to the young school at 49th Street and Imperial Avenue.

Hayes 78, who passed on Thanksgiving Day, surrounded by his wife, Anita, and family at his home in Palos Verdes Estates, starred in football, basketball and track and field at Lincoln, was a standout in football and track at USC, and played on the first Chargers team in San Diego in 1961.

Hayes, who was born in Houston and came to San Diego at age 5, was a starting end as a sophomore on Lincoln’s first varsity team in 1954.

Hayes transferred to San Diego after the football season and competed in track and field for the Cavers, finishing fifth in the Southern California broad jump competition in Ontario, at 22 feet, 1 inch.

Hayes (left) in front row was standout on Cavers’ defense that allowed only 65 points in 12 games.

Hayes was an offensive and defensive end on the 1955 San Diego team that posted an 11-0-1 record and was declared the national champion by a New York publication.

A dramatic play in the Cavers’ march to the title that season came in a game that Anaheim tied, 20-20, late in a semifinals struggle at Long Beach Veterans’ Stadium.

The 6-foot, 4-inch, 190-pound Hayes had gotten his hand up and deflected an attempted point after following Anaheim’s first touchdown in the fourth quarter.  If successful, the Colonists would have won the game, 21-20.

Hayes’ family (and that of San Diego teammate David Grayson) moved during the ’55-56 school year, back into the Lincoln district.

Luther helped Lincoln post a 20-4 record in basketball and he won the first of two Southern California broad jump championships, overcoming a markedly short runway at Inglewood with a 22-foot, 9 ¾-inch, effort.  He had set the City Prep League meet record of 23-9 ½ three weeks before.

Luther stood tall at right in back row as Lincoln lettermen posed for group shot in 1957 annual.

Hayes was all-City as a fullback on the ’56 Lincoln team, its leading scorer in basketball and, defeated favored Preston Griffin with a 23-11 broad jump in the track finals at Ontario Chaffey.

Hayes finished fourth with a jump of 24 feet, 1/8 inch in the state meet at Chico in 1956 and won the event the following year at 23-8 ½ at Edwards Field in Berkeley.

Hayes went on to earn more honors at USC.

The first athlete from Lincoln to be recruited by USC, Luther earned two varsity letters before an injury slowed his senior season, but he etched his name in Trojans’ lore in 1958 when he returned a kickoff 74 yards for a game-tying touchdown as underdog USC battled UCLA to a 15-15 standoff.

Hayes won the national collegiate championship in the hop, step, and jump in 1960 and ’61, and set a NCAA meet record of 51-2 ¼.  He still ranks among all-time USC leaders with a 25-6 ¼ broad jump and 51-9 ½ in the event that became known as the triple jump.

Drafted by the NFL Philadelphia Eagles and the San Diego Chargers of the AFL, Hayes opted to sign with the hometown team and played one season, catching 14 passes for a 20-yard average and three touchdowns.

Luther went on the coach and educate in Los Angeles in a career that lasted 40 years.

He is remembered as an athlete that  came up big in the big games and meets and as the gentleman Lincoln student who always had time for anyone, no matter their status on campus.

Hayes (fourth from left) was two-year letterman in basketball and the Hornets’ leading scorer in the 1956-57 season.








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2017 Week 13: How an “Expert” Sees This Week’s Games

Rick : November 23, 2017 9:39 am : Football

Here they are, our predictions for the five San Diego Section semifinals and one final this week. I pretty much went with the seeds, although there are a few strays from chalk.  I’m not Colin Cowherd or the late “Jimmy the Greek,” so take these picks for what they’re worth.


3 SAN MARCOS (9-2) @2 HELIX (10-1).

Helix dropped a 23-6 decision to Lancaster Paraclete in what was considered a moderate upset in the opening game. The Paraclete Spirits still are winning, 11-1 with only a 30-21 loss to well-regarded Westlake Village Oaks Christian.   Since that game in September the Highlanders have run off 10 straight victories, including their annual beat down of big brother Grossmont, 57-3, one month ago.

San Marcos, laboring in the  shadow of the neighboring and more renown Mission Hills, is 9-2 and sent St. Augustine packing last week, 41-21.  The Knights are not even the No. 1, or 2 team in the muscular Avocado League, with a 38-21 loss to Torrey Pines and 49-27 loss to Mission Hills.

The Pick:  Helix.


Mission Hills, 52-42 over Grossmont in the quarterfinals, has been here before and is the elephant among the Avocados, taking charge since Oceanside’s John Carroll retired and rode off with his 248 career victories.  Mission Hills’ Chris Hauser is moving up the list with 153 wins. Quarterback Jack Tuttle, wideout Chris Olave, and the rest of the Grizzlies’ crew will have the home crowd behind them.

Torrey Pines, despite four losses and a 7-4 resume, emerged as one of the best teams in the San Diego Section beginning in Week 5.  The Falcons were 5-2 down the stretch, losing to No. 1 Mission Hills, 24-23, and to La Costa Canyon, 27-21.

The loss to the Grizzlies was not surprising, but Torrey’s rematch seven days later with La Costa Canyon got people’s attention. The Falcons, pounding it with a flock of runners in the Wing T tradition of Ed Burke and used today by Coach Ron Gladnick, kayoed the Mavericks, 40-0, in a stunning 46-point swing.

The Pick: Torrey Pines.


5 Oceanside (6-6) @1 El Camino (6-5).

2 Carlsbad (6-5) @3 Eastlake (9-2)

The Picks:  El Camino & Eastlake.


7 Steele Canyon (8-4) @6 Granite Hills (10-2).

4 Otay Ranch (8-3) @1 Ramona (11-0).

The Picks: Steele Canyon & Ramona.


4 Hilltop (7-4) @1 El Centro Southwest (11-0).

3 San Pasqual (7-4) vs. 2 Santa Fe Christian (7-4) @Torrey Pines.

The Picks: Hilltop & Santa Fe Christian.


3 El Centro Central (10-1) @2 San Diego (11-0).

4 Monte Vista (6-5) @ 1 University City (10-1).

The Picks: San Diego & University City.


2 Crawford (8-4) vs. 1 Calexico Vincent Memorial (10-2) @Southwestern College.

The Pick: Calexico Vincent Memorial.


Except for Division II, the new ratings system is working, but the real test comes in the next two weeks.

Three of the five top seeds still are in the hunt in the Open and Division I, respectively. The top 4 in III and IV are active and the top two will meet in the D-V championship.  Numbers 2 and 3 went down in D-II

The Bishop’s, No. 2 in D-II and a state finalist in 2016, lost a 61-52 shootout to 7 seed Steele Canyon and 6 seed Granite Hills topped No. 3 Valley Center, 49-30.

Two fifth seeds, Torrey Pines in the Open and Oceanside in D-I, will continue making their cases.


El Centro Central has not scored on San Diego High in 100 years…not that the Spartans have had many opportunities…San Diego won at Central, 20-0, in 1987 and blanked the visitors from Imperial Valley, 28-0, in 1917 in the teams’ only meetings…San Marcos’ win over St. Augustine last week was the Knights’ fifth against no defeats versus the Saints…the teams had last met in 1984…Mission Hills remained 11th in Cal-Hi Sports’ top 50, Helix dropped from 25th to 26th, Ramona rose from 44th to 42nd, and Torrey Pines joined at 50th…San Marcos is on the bubble.


1940-41:  Douglas, Wilson Make Coaching Debuts

Rick : November 18, 2017 5:14 pm : Football

Two young coaches destined to become legendary in San Diego basketball lore arrived as varsity mentors at the city’s two prep powerhouses.

Rickey Wilson, a former San Diego High player, succeeded Lawrence Carr at Hoover and Merrill Douglas, a transplanted Montanan, took over for Bill Schutte at San Diego High.

The schools  continued to be San Diego’s prime representatives, the Hilltoppers going 15-3 under Douglas and Hoover 10-4 under Wilson, but teams in the Metropolitan and Southern Prep Leagues commanded their shares of attention, although headlines were reserved for the war clouds that loomed in the West and the “The Battle of Britain”, being fought between the British and Germans in the skies above London.


San Diego and Hoover would join a 17-team super conference beginning in 1941-42 as the CIF attempted to separate large schools from small schools.  San Diego, Hoover, and Long Beach Poly, were the only members of the Coast League.

Down to three teams since Santa Ana bailed after the 1935-36 school year and Alhambra after 1938-39, the Coast basketball season was shortened.  The Hilltoppers and Hoover seasons ended this year in late January.  The Metropolitan and Southern Prep were active through the end of February.

New Cardinals mentor Rickey Wilson (right) meets Hoover athletic director John Perry.

CIF commissioner Seth Van Patten often had to hustle to fill playoff brackets.  Some leagues, notably the Metro, at the geographical bottom of the Federation, just didn’t want to be bothered.  Records in the CIF archives showed only a four-team field this year.

Poly won the Coast, taking three out of four from San Diego and Hoover, but the Jackrabbits were beaten in the CIF finals by Glendale Hoover, 23-20.

A spirited, six-game Metropolitan League race ended with Coronado, Escondido, and Grossmont, each 5-1, tying for first place.  Ramona ran the table with a 12-0 record to win its fifth consecutive Southern Prep championship.

Coronado Islanders were Metropolitan League co-champions with Escondido and Grossmont. Front row (from left) James Mealy, Bob Wright, Sevy Molino, Scott Daubin, Dexter Lanois. Back row (from left) Herman Riedlinger, Bob Melton, Jacob Gayle, Willard Matott, Bill Johns, Fritz Sanderman, Bob Thompson.


It took the San Diego news corps awhile to get it right with Ermer Robinson, the San Diego High star and future Harlem Globetrotter.  He was known as “Irma” Robinson for the first month of this, his junior season.

Martin Payne, the sports editor of The Russ, San Diego High’s weekly newspaper, covered several games for The San Diego Union and was the first to ensure that Robinson was correctly identified, when Payne covered the Hilltoppers’ 25-19 league victory over Long Beach Poly.


–Known as the County Interscholastic Tournament, an eight-team event took place with games at San Diego High, Hoover, Municipal Gym, and San Diego State. Grossmont defeated Point Loma, 30-12, for the championship.

–San Diego and Hoover at the same time were in the Huntington Beach Tournament, which also included Coronado. The Islanders opened with a 46-7 victory over Laguna Beach as Bud Ingle scored 20 points.  They were eliminated the next day by Ontario Chaffey, 22-17.

San Diego defeated Hoover, 24-15, for the Huntington Beach title after advancing with wins of 28-20 over defending champ Chaffey and 29-23 over Long Beach Wilson.  Hoover was in the finals after defeating Whittier, 36-26, and Santa Barbara, 20-19.

Junior Ray Boone would finish stellar basketball-baseball career at Hoover, become outstanding major league player and father and grandfather of future major leaguers.

San Diego was forced to give up the Huntington Beach trophy when Bob (Lefty) Felthaus was declared ineligible by the CIF a few days later for having signed a professional baseball contract in 1939, days before his 17th birthday.

Brooklyn Dodgers scout Tom Downey, under heavy criticism from local prep officials, said that he signed Felthaus after the player stopped attending school, his having dropped out of Hoover.  Felthaus became a student again at San Diego and had turned out for basketball.

–“Irma” Robinson scored 10 points as San Diego, playing for the first time without Felthaus, opened the post-Christmas Chino Tournament with a 42-9 win over San Juan Capistrano.  The Hilltoppers buried Huntington Beach, 38-13, but lost to Burbank, 30-20, in the semifinals.  Poly won its second straight title, 34-24, over Burbank.

–St. Augustine lost to St. Mary’s of Phoenix, 36-27 in the Los Angeles Catholic League tournament.  Hoover defeated Grossmont, 11-7, and Point Loma topped Hoover, 26-8, in finals of the San Diego High invitational for Class C and D teams, respectively.


Army-Navy’s 34-33 victory clinched a best, two-of-three series against the Oceanside chapter of the Knights of Pythias.  The cadets were not as fortunate against the so-named Vista Outlaws, who prevailed, 21-15.


Ramona’s 59-17 victory over Fallbrook represented the single-game scoring high for the season. The Bulldogs also defeated Julian, 53-26.

Julian’s Bud Farmer had the top individual performance with 24 in a 38-31 victory over Army-Navy and added 22 in a 30-24 win over San Dieguito. Julian’s 51-6 rout of Fallbrook, with Farmer scoring one point, represented the third, 50-plus game in the county.


Hilltoppers coach Merrill Douglas saw Maley as one of the keys to the following season.

San Diego’s season was over but Coach Merrill Douglas enticed Chino to come south a couple weeks a couple weeks later.  Douglas employed only players who would return for the 1941-42 season, opening with a starting lineup of Ermer Robinson, Jim Warner, Ron Maley, Denzil Walden, and Gerald Patrick.

The underclassmen delivered a 32-15 victory but Douglas would never see them play together again.  He would respond to a call from Uncle Sam before the next season and not return until the 1946-47 campaign.


Hoover’s Willie Steele set a record of 24 feet, ¾ inch, in the broad jump at the Southern Section track finals in Glendale in May, a few months after Steele served as student manager of the varsity basketball squad.  Steele was awarded a letter by coach Rickey Wilson, as was B squad manager Monroe (Bookie) Clark.

Steele, who played class B basketball the season before, went on to win the national collegiate broad jump championship at San Diego State and was the 1948 Olympic gold medalist in the event, with an all-time best of 26 feet, 6 ½ inches.


St. Augustine principal the Very Rev. W.B. Kirk announced that the Saints had found a home and would join the Southern Prep League in the next school year, after free-lancing and scuffling as an independent since the school opened in 1922.  The agreement was for one year, depending on the circuit’s ability to develop a schedule for eight teams.

Ramona, Julian, Fallbrook, Brown Military, Army-Navy, San Dieguito, and Vista were the other SPL members.  St. Augustine’s games would not count in the standings and the Saints eventually joined the Southland Catholic League of the Los Angeles area in 1945.


“The Russ” outgoing editor Graham Ostrander (left) makes traditional hand off of keys to student newspaper office at San Diego High.  Accepting is spring semester editor Martin Payne. Event took place during dinner at Hotel San Diego.

The U.S. census for 1940 reported San Diego County’s population at 289,348, including 203,737 in the city.   Other “township” totals: Borrego, 90; El Cajon, 20,160; Encinitas, 4,473; Escondido, 9,487; Fallbrook, 2,308; Jacumba, 1,214; National City, 32,213; Oceanside, 8,191;  Ramona, 3,384, and Vista, 4,091.

San Diego State, which would win the 1941 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championship, drew a record 19,256 persons to 17 home games in the 1,800-capacity Men’s Gym.  The largest turnout was 1,713 for Santa Barbara State, although the record was 1,907 for a 1939 game against the Broadway Clowns.


The San Diego High gym was packed to the rafters with an estimated 1,900 persons when Hoover upended the Hilltoppers, 32-17…seven days later San Diego won at Hoover, 32-17…Coronado’s Metro League co-championship was achieved despite Coach Hal Niedermeyer’s suspension of Bud Ingle, the Metro’s leading scorer in 1939-40; Bill Hakes, and Al Galpin, early in the season…the three-team Coast’s all-league squad featured San Diego’s Bob (Lefty) Felthaus, Bob Carson, and Jack Maupin…Felthaus’ selection apparently was made on his reputation; he didn’t participate in league play…Hoover’s Rupert Crosthwaite, later well-known in San Diego circles for his ownership of a local sporting goods store, made second team….


2017 Week 12: It’s Playoff System Controversy Time

Rick : November 14, 2017 3:47 pm : Football

CIF boss Jerry Schniepp had a thoughtful response recently to criticism of the San Diego Section playoff formula by writer John Maffei, but even if Schniepp’s assertion that the system implemented this year is the best of several that have been tried, teams like Bonita Vista. 0-11 and counting, continue to get postseason invitations.

Bonita Vista apparently had a stronger “strength of schedule” than 6-4 Brawley or 5-5 Morse, but the Barons were only the most recent example of the “participation trophy” mentality that has been evolving since the CIF first admitted a losing team, coincidentally Bonita Vista, in 1984.

The CIF seemed to even go out of its way to include 0-10 San Marcos in 2006.

Headine announcing San Marcos’ admittance to 2006 playoffs.

Steve Brand, then of The San Diego Union, wrote of the Knights’ inclusion that year:

“Mission Hills dumped San Marcos, 42-0 (in the regular-season-ending game) but the Knights received an unexpected bonus.   They were given a playoff berth.

“Madison and Crawford were out of the postseason because of (combined 11) forfeits, but instead of constructing an eight-team playoff bracket in Division IV, the committee of former coaches, overseen by (commissioner) Dennis Ackerman, opted for a 10-team bracket.”

Of the 11 eligible IV possibilities in 2006, San Marcos was picked over another winless club, Kearny.

“0-10 is 0-10,” Knights coach Desi Herrera admitted to Brand, “but the beauty is we’re starting 0-0 and the playoffs are where we aspire to be.  I want the players to get used to going to the playoffs every year.”

San Marcos was game but bowed in the first round to Coronado, 27-21. Bonita Vista exited last week after a 35-19 loss to Oceanside.


If not fewer divisions, smaller brackets would make for a more competitive postseason.

That won’t happen. The more the merrier is the financially-enhancing go-to philosophy throughout the state CIF’s 10 sections.

There will be more blowouts this week as the surviving 44 teams from the original 64 reach the quarterfinals in Open, I, II, II, and IV.  D-V teams are in the semifinals. Games should tighten up the following week.


The echoes of Rancho Buena Vista’s thundering herd of the late 1980s were loud and clear on Longhorn Drive last week.  Running back Dorian Richardson brought back memories of Markeith Ross, Scott Garcia, and O.J. Hall, who ran and ran and ran in that era for the Rancho squads of Coach Craig Bell.

Richardson scored 8 touchdowns and rushed for 499 yards in 37 carries in the Longhorns’ 62-43, first-round win over Santana.

The yardage total bettered the section record of 436 by Mt. Carmel’s Ken James in 2009.

Richardson’s record touchdown total would have led the County for the whole season in 1943 and  been runner-up in in 1937 and ’40.

Hoover’s Eddie Crain and San Diego’s Tom Poole each scored 25 points in the abbreviated, wartime, six-game season of 1943. Point Loma’s Paul (Red) Isom had 54 points in 8 games in 1937 and Sweetwater’s Marcus Alonzo had 54 in 8 games in 1940.

Frank Green of Coronado scored 11 touchdowns in one game and a ttoal of 80 points in  a 108-0 win over Sweetwater in 1929


Julian upset undefeated and favored Calvin Christian, 26-21, in the D-VI eight-man finals at Ramona.

Eagles quarterback Ozzie Martinez scored 20 seconds into the game when he faked a pass and hustled 65 yards for a touchdown.

Julian’s Roman Sanders halted a Crusaders drive with less than a minute to play when he returned an intercepted pass 28 yards, allowing the Eagles to take possession and do  akneel-down.


Despite having a bye, Mission Hills profited from some playoff losses of teams ahead of the Grizzlies, who advanced from 16th to 11th in Cal-Hi Sports’ Top 50…Helix gave ground, dropping to 25th from 24th despite a bye, and Ramona moved from 48th to 44th…The Bishop’s and San Marcos are on the bubble.


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2017: Week 11:  Hats Off!

Rick : November 6, 2017 10:29 am : Football

A doffing of the fedora to the 16, playoff-bound teams that won league championships:

Avocado Mission Hills 10-0 2013
Central San Diego 10-0 1960*
City University City 9-1 2012
Coastal The Bishop’s 9-0 2016
Eastern Lincoln 8-2 1991+
Grossmont Hills Helix 9-1 2016
Grossmont Valley Granite Hills 8-2 2016
Imperial Valley El Centro Southwest 10-0 2010
Manzanita Calexico Vincent Memorial 8-2 2002#
Metro Mesa Otay Ranch 7-3 NA^
Metro Pacific Montgomery 7-3 NA^^
Metro South Bay Hilltop 6-4 2013
Pacific Maranatha 6-3 2014**
Palomar Ramona 10-0 2013
Valley Valley Center 9-1 2016
Western St. Augustine 7-3 2015++

*Tied for Eastern League championship, 1974.

+Tied for Eastern League championship, 1994.

#Won championship as member of Desert League; tied for Manzanita championship, 2016.

^First championship since school opened in 2004.

^^Tied for Mesa League championship, 1986.

**Tied for championship as member of Ocean League, 2014.

++Won championship as member of Eastern League.

Not included:  Eight-man and Independent squads.


Playoff selections have stirred emotions for as long as most people can remember.

In a simpler time, league champions and, sometimes, second-place teams were included.

Then the playoffs began to expand and expand and expand…and expand.

Coaches were drafted to make selections. Complaints of bias and oversight were as common as if the media or school bosses were making the choices.

Then a few years ago came the ratings system, which took into account team performances over a multi-year period.

The ratings are out, replaced this season by a combination of  formulas developed  by Max Preps and Cal, two nationally recognized sites recommended by coaches.

Sixty-four of the San Diego Section’s 80-odd teams playing 11-man football have postseason dates on their calendars.

It was inevitable that stinko teams would be included, winless Bonita Vista (0-10), among several others.

“There is no perfect formula to determine the seeds, but I think this is very close to right,” said CIF honcho Jerry Schniepp to writer John Maffei.

Tell that to Brawley (6-4) and Morse (5-5), two schools that were left out, despite long playoff traditions and  success, apparently because they had insufficient strengths of schedules.


I like what legendary Herb Meyer said about the playoffs to writer Steve Brand in 1998, after Meyer declined a playoff invitation for his sub-.500 El Camino team:

“If you’re upright and can take a breath you’re in the playoffs these days.  It’s a joke. The playoffs should be a reward for having a good season and I certainly don’t consider 3-6-1 a good season.”


It was such when Valley Center defeated Monte Vista, 51-10, in the regular-season ending game.

The victory was the 214th in Jaguar coach Rob Gilster’s career.  He’s now tied with, you guessed it, Monte Vista’s Ron Hamamoto for seventh place on the all-time list.


TEAM 2016 2017 COACH
San Diego 2-8 10-0 Charles James
El Centro Central 3-8 9-1 David Pena
Kearny 3-8 8-2 Will Gray
Montgomery 3-7 7-3 Sanjevi Subbiah
Otay Ranch 4-8 7-3 Lance Christensen
Ramona 5-6 10-0 Damon Baldwin
Crawford 3-7 6-4 Mike Wright


The Bishop’s Mozes Mooney has 65 career touchdown receptions, one less than the state record, set in 2000 by Earvin Johnson of L.A. Cathedral and tied last week by Murrieta Valley’s Marquise Spiker…Mooney and Spiker both will  have opportunities for more in the playoffs…Mission Hills moved from 16th to 11th in Cal-Hi Sports’ weekly top 50…Helix climbed to 24th from 29th and Ramona from 50th to 48th…San Marcos is on the bubble,., Mission Hills, on top since Week 3,  finished the regular season No. 1 locally, with voting suspended from now until the end of the postseason….

The Union-Tribune Week 11 poll:

Rank Team 2017 Points Last Week
1. Mission Hills (24) 10-0 276 1
2. Helix (4) 9-1 256 2
3. Ramona 10-0 216 3
4. La Costa Canyon 7-3* 163 7
5. San Marcos 8-2 144 4
6. The Bishop’s 9-0 140 6
7. St. Augustine 7-3 99 9
8. Madison 8-2 88 8
9. Torrey Pines 6-4 82 5
10. Lincoln 8-2 20 NR

Points awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.

*Forfeit loss.

NR: Not Ranked.

Others receiving votes:  Valley Center (9-1, 18 points),  Eastlake (8-2, 12) El Centro Southwest (10-0, 10), San Diego (10-0, 4),  Otay Ranch (7-3, 2), Grossmont (7-3, 1).

Voters (28 sportswriters, sportscasters, officials): John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune; Terry Monahan, Don Norcross, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff, Jim Lindren, Union-Tribune correspondents; Paul Rudy, Brandon Stone, Rick Willis, KUSI Chl. 51; Adam Paul, East County; Ramon Scott, East County; Bodie DeSilva, San Diego; Ted Mendenhall, Taylor Quellman, The Mighty 1090; Steve Brand, San Diego Hall of Champions; Troy Hirsch, Fox 5 San Diego; Rick Smith,; Jerry Schniepp, John LaBeta, Carlton Hoggard, CIF San Diego; Raymond Brown,; Montell Allen, MBASports-SDFNL Magazine; Bob Petinak,  1360AM; John Kentera, Prep Talent Evaluator; Steve (Biff) Dolan, Mountain Country 107.9FM; Jim Arnaiz, Mike Dolan, John Carroll, CIF Football Tournament Directors.









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2017 Week 10: Regular Season Undefeated Prizes Await 6

Rick : October 30, 2017 12:59 pm : Football

What is it when Grossmont plays Helix?

The Highlanders exercised their annual domination over the Foothillers, 57-3, last week.

Grossmont had scored 157 points in its previous three games, wins of 51-14 over Steele Canyon, 54-26, over Valhalla, and 51-7 over El Capitan.

Those scores matched up well with Helix’ victories of 58-7 against El Capitan and 41-7 over Steele Canyon.

Grossmont hasn‘t beaten Helix since 1992, a span of 20 consecutive losses to its La Mesa neighbor.

What gives?

The Foothillers are not alone.

Helix is to its league opponents, Grossmont  in particular, what San Diego was to those on its schedule in the old City Prep League.

The Highlanders are 35-1 in circuit play since 2010 and 50-4 since 2006.  The Cavers were 52-3-1 versus City League and Eastern League competition from 1950-59.


–Calvin Christian (9-0) can earn its second straight, eight-man, Ocean League title against Foothills Christian (6-2).

The Crusaders, located in Escondido with a student body of about 125, are 26-4 in the last three years under Coach Randy Kreglow, who was 16-23 in his first four seasons.

–El Centro Southwest, 27-6 since 2015 under John Mitosinka, is 9-0 for the first time and will seek its first Imperial Valley League title since 2010 against Calexico.

–Mission Hills (9-0), unquestionably the North County’s leader—111-35-2 since 2006 under Coach Chris Hauser, after Hauser guided the Grizzlies through 1-10 and 4-6 beginnings in 2004 and ’05—can earn a seventh league championship in Hauser’s 13 seasons.

Mission Hills, which survived a tense battle last week and nosed out Torrey Pines, 24-23 (the Falcons scored with 1:01 left but botched the snap on a two-point conversion attempt  and then almost recovered an onside kick), will meet tough San Marcos (8-1), a loser only to Torrey Pines, 38-21, for the Avocado League title and Highway 78 bragging rights.

–Coach Charles James’s San Diego 9-0 squad can claim its first outright league championship since 1960, after sharing the crown in 1964, ’69, and ’74, when the Cavers attempt to keep pace with the 1925, ’55, ’57, and ’58 teams, which also were 9-0  at this juncture.

–The Bishop’s (8-0), which topped Classical, 73-70, to claim its third 70-point explosion in the last two seasons (with 4 more of at least 60 since 2015) will try to improve on its 20-13, all-time series lead against La Jolla Country Day and knock down the Knights’ third Coastal League title in the last 4 seasons.


La Costa Canyon used an ineligible player and it cost the Mavericks a 50-13 win over Mt. Carmel in the second game of the season.  The Mavericks are 7-2 competitively but 6-3 legislatively.


La Jolla (5-4) visits University City (8-1) for the City League championship and Julian and Salton City West Shores, each 5-2, roll in the Citrus League title decider…Mission Hills dropped to 16th and Helix stayed at 29th in the weekly Cal-Hi Sports state top 50…Ramona moved from No. 50 to 48 and San Marcos is on the bubble..Mission Hills has 23 No. 1 votes and Helix picked up 3 for a total of  5  in the Union-Tribune  Week 10 poll:

Rank Team 2017 Points Last Week
1. Mission Hills (23) 9-0 275 1
2. Helix (5) 8-1 257 2
3. Ramona 9-0 213 3
4. San Marcos 8-1 185 4
5. Torrey Pines 7-2 154 5
6. The Bishop’s 8-0 123 6
7. La Costa Canyon 6-3* 115 8
8. Madison 7-2 69 10
9. St. Augustine 6-3 66 9
10. Point Loma 6-3 29 NR

Points awarded on 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.

*Forfeit loss.

NR: Not Ranked.

Others receiving votes:  Lincoln (7-2, 22 points),  Valley Center (8-1, 12) El Centro Southwest (9-0, 8), Eastlake (7-2, 6) El Camino (5-4, 6),  San Diego (9-0, 1).

Voters (28 sportswriters, sportscasters, officials): John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune; Terry Monahan, Don Norcross, Tom Saxe, Rick Hoff, Jim Lindren, Union-Tribune correspondents; Paul Rudy, Brandon Stone, Rick Willis, KUSI Chl. 51; Adam Paul, East County; Ramon Scott, East County; Bodie DeSilva, San Diego; Ted Mendenhall, Taylor Quellman, The Mighty 1090; Steve Brand, San Diego Hall of Champions; Troy Hirsch, Fox 5 San Diego; Rick Smith,; Jerry Schniepp, John LaBeta, Carlton Hoggard, CIF San Diego; Raymond Brown,; Montell Allen, MBASports-SDFNL Magazine; Bob Petinak,  1360AM; John Kentera, Prep Talent Evaluator; Steve (Biff) Dolan, Mountain Country 107.9FM; Jim Arnaiz, Mike Dolan, John Carroll, CIF Football Tournament Directors.







1949-50: 4th in League, 1st in Southern California

Rick : October 26, 2017 6:01 pm : Football

Chula Vista’s basketball history was brief and uninspiring. Two seasons, 12 wins, 18 losses, seventh and fourth-place-tie finishes in the Metropolitan League.

No problem.  The Spartans emerged from the pack to win a Southern California championship this season.

It was a nice accomplishment for the fledgling South Bay power, but not without a few assists, beginning a year before.

  • CIF Commissioner Seth Van Patten asked for some membership feedback when Van Patten posted his CIF newsletter in March, 1949.

Van Patten wanted to add a playoff bracket for small schools.

Big schools had dominated the postseason.  A team generated from a student body of 2,000 often was matched against another with an enrollment of several hundred less.

  • Van Patten must have liked the responses, because a new bracket for the little guys was implemented this year.
  • Point Loma opened a beautiful, 1,800-seat gymnasium on campus. The facility included a balcony on one side, similar to the 1938 vintage layout at Hoover.

The Point Loma gym for years would serve as the site for Harlem Globetrotters games, NBA preseason games, home games for the Pointers…and for the Chula Vista Spartans.

Chula Vista, like most of the area’s teams, did not have its own court.  The Spartans would not move into the Chula Vista Recreation Center until the mid-1950s and into their campus gym until a few years after that.

Major playoffs had been held at one site after the first round of games, lately at Redondo Beach Redondo.

  • With a new division, Van Patten looked for a suitable site for games beyond the opening round.  Aware of the facility in San Diego, Van Patten contacted Darrell Smith, San Diego City Schools’ athletics coordinator.

An agreement was reached between the City Schools and CIF that put in place a bracket of six squads competing over two days at Point Loma.

The teams were Chula Vista, Claremont, Brawley, Beaumont, San Dieguito, and Garden Grove.

  • What was fourth-place Chula Vista doing in the playoffs?

The Spartans, 9-9 overall,  posted a 4-3 league record and tied with Kearny in the Metro, behind triple co-champions La Jolla, Point Loma, and Sweetwater.

Given the Metropolitan circuit’s playoff history, it was not surprising that the three each declined an invitation to participate.

Metro football winners, dating to the league’s beginning in 1933, generally bypassed the postseason.  The latest example was the first-place, 7-1 La Jolla football team in 1948.

Metro basketball champs recently had been more agreeable to participating, so there were some raised eyebrows when the co-champions bailed, leaving the door open for Chula Vista, which was selected over Kearny.


The Spartans caught one more break.  They were seeded into the semifinals, meaning they did not have play twice on Friday, as did Claremont and Garden Grove.

Claremont defeated Beaumont, 47-37, and Garden Grove eliminated San Dieguito, 45-39, in the first round.

Chula Vista, defeated Brawley, 46-27, and Claremont knocked off Garden Grove, 38-33, in the last of four Friday games.

The Spartans, beginning a decade in which they were a class power in football, basketball,  and baseball, winning or competing for several championships, topped Claremont, 39-26 in the finals.


San Dieguito, a member of the Southern Prep League since the school opened in 1936, rolled with a 14-0 league record and was 24-4 overall but must have felt as if salt was being rubbed into  a wound.

The wound was a 45-39 loss to Garden Grove in the playoff opener.  The salt was the league realignment in San Diego that left the Mustangs in the Southern Prep, which the Encinitans  felt they were outgrowing.

Lanky Graham Grande led 24-win San Dieguito.

Mustangs bosses and fans were upset they were not invited to the Metro, which was reconstructed after Kearny and La Jolla left to join the new City Prep League.

Led by 6-foot, 4-inch Graham Grande, the County’s  probable leading scorer with 423 points and 15.1 average, coach Jack Davidson’s club won league games by scores such as 83-22 (Mountain Empire) and 72-15 (Brown Military).

San Dieguito eventually would get its wish, joining the Metro in 1951 and then becoming part of the new Avocado League in 1954.


A record 24 teams, including 16 in the large, Unlimited Division and with St. Augustine an invitee for the first time, the third annual Kiwanis Tournament had a repeat winner as El Monte defeated Pasadena Muir, 44-29, in the finals.

Grossmont’s Phil Embleton tied Bill McColl’s record of 69 points in 4 games, a 17.3 average, but San Dieguito’s Graham Grande had 54 in 3 for 18.0.

San Diego defeated Hoover, 28-18, for fifth place in a disappointing performance by local teams and then surprised by winning the prestigious Western States Tournament at Compton.

The Cavers defeated Los Angeles Cathedral, 44-26, and Santa Monica St. Monica, 42-37, and reached the finals by dealing Ventura its second loss in 21 games, 45-38,  as Dean Davis scored 18 points and Roy Fields 17.

San Diego won the championship, 36-35, over L.A. Mt. Carmel and Davis was the tournament’s most-valuable player, joined by Fields on the all-tournament team. Hoover bowed in the consolation semifinals, 36-35, to Santa Barbara.

Chula Vista reached the consolation semifinals of the Chino Tournament before losing to Chino, 40-39.  The Spartans fell to San Bernardino, 37-23, in the opening game and beat Azusa Citrus, 38-29.

San Diego’s season ended with a 43-34 victory in the morning over Long Beach Jordan and an afternoon, 43-39 loss to Ventura in the Beverly Hills tournament.


Host Pasadena Muir defeated San Diego, 42-26, in an opening weekend game. Not a shocking event, but the result as published had more questions than answers.

The San Diego Union account, probably telephoned in by San Diego coach Merrill Douglas or a student manager, described a  game that was played in an “open-sided gymnasium and it was rainy and frigid.”

A partially enclosed playing area, or was the game outdoors in inclement weather?  There was no follow story in local newspapers.

San Diego completed a 20-8 season with a 6-4 Coast League record and second place finish to Compton.  One of the victories was 32-31 at home against Muir in which the Cavers used a “wheel passing offense” while stalling the last three minutes.

Charlie Powell did not accompany the Cavers to the Western States event after missing practice during the Christmas Holidays and not  part of the San Diego contingent that split a pair of weekend games in the Imperial Valley, beating Brawley, 39-30, and losing to Calexico, 32-26.

The 6-foot, 3-inch, 200-pound Charlie Powell of San Diego rumbled in the paint with Hoover’s George Boop (left) and unidentified Cardinal. San Diego won, 29-21.


“Escondido pulled off one of the most surprising upsets in the history of local prep basketball,” wrote Gardner Morse in The San Diego Union after the Cougars defeated La Jolla, 32-30.  Hardly. The Cougars were 3-4 in league play and La Jolla was 5-2, same as Coronado and Point Loma.


Sweetwater’s Pat Tomlinson survived an embarrassing moment against Vista in the Kiwanis Tournament.  Tomlinson scored a wrong-way basket for Vista, but the Red Devils  won, 29-27, in overtime.


San Diego, Hoover, and Grossmont were saying good bye to the historically most prominent circuit in Southern California, joining the new City Prep League after an announcement in early February.

The Cavers had been members since 1923, except for the 1942-45 period of World War II.  Hoover joined in 1937 and Grossmont in 1948.


Hoover defeated San Diego, 62-38, in a game between alumni of the schools, proceeds going to financial aid at San Diego State for Cardinals and Cavers varsity players…San Dieguito won by an average score of 61-29  in running the table against Southern Prep League competition…Bill Foy of Army-Navy set a SPL individual record with 28 points in the Warriors 58-40 win over Fallbrook…Jack Goddard had 27 in Vista’s 67-22 triumph over Mountain Empire…three-year veteran Bob (Bama) Shell of St. Augustine had the highest single game scoring total of the season with 31 in a 58-36 victory over Sweetwater at Municipal Gym…season totals weren’t available but Grossmont’s Phil Embleton led Coast League scorers with 150 points in 9 games for a 16.7 average…Coronado passed on the Kiwanis Tournament but was all over the map, schedule-wise, losing to the  “taller and older” U.S.S. Badoeng Strait, 50-36, defeating Naval Air, 53-50, and losing to a Tijuana high school on a court in the Baja California community…Bill Reaves, who would coach La Jolla to a 29-1 record in the 1963-64 season, was a starting guard for the Vikings…future international badminton star and NFL game official Jim Poole was a Point Loma standout….

La Jolla’s Bill Reaves splits Kearny defenders Jim Neihart (left) and David Miramontes.

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38 Responses to Football Blog

  1. Billy Ervin says:

    Nothing about that 1979 Morse High Tigers break away backfield QB Keith Magee.
    RB Dino Babers, RB Billy Ervin, FB mark Kennedy, who made the Tribune athlete
    of the week……1978* 79 Tigers finished 11-1 and is not recognized……how can I find my

    • Rick says:

      Billy: This is the message I sent to you in March, 2017:

      “I found the athlete-of-the-week article, Billy, and I’m going to put the illustration that went with the article on my blog. I’ll send you a copy of the article I found on the Central Library microfilm. Let me know your address.”

  2. John Carter says:

    I just read about this website from this morning’s paper in Nick’s column, what a great find! I played on Kearny’s 1973 undefeated CIF Champioship team, and our 1973-74 basketball team was undefeated and CIF champions as well. I’ve always wondered if there has ever been a year where both football and basketball teams were undefeated and champions in San Diego County history? Thank you for all your work with high school sports history over the years!

    • Rick says:

      I thanked Nick. And I thank you. I don’t think there have been undefeated football and basketball teams at the same school.
      It’s just too tough a double. Undefeated football teams are more common. I’ll do some research.

  3. Buzz Ponce says:

    Interesting overview on St. Augustine for this upcoming season. Frank Buncom IV, however, is a cornerback, not a linebacker. His grandfather, as I know you are aware, was the original number 55 for the San Diego Chargers and is in the team’s Hall of Fame. Very interestingly, the other iconic number 55 for the Chargers — Junior Seau — has a nephew on St. Augustine’s team that also plays linebacker. Quinn Seau and Buncom IV have roots that parallel the greats in Chargers history. You can read a chapter on Buncom IV and Quinn Seau’s similarities in my book, “Finding Frank: Full Circle in a Life Cut Short.”

    • Rick says:

      I missed on Buncom IV’s position, but I don’t think he’s a cornerback. He’s more of a “monster” in that he’s all over the field, almost a strong safety. I’ve heard of your book. I also interviewed Frank Buncom, Jr., after Chargers games when I was a sports writer at the Evening Tribune. Nice man. Tragic ending.

  4. holly bryant says:

    1978 — Dan Henson was the coach at Christian
    2007 — Grossmont was 2-1 for 2nd place (West Hills was 3-0)

    • Rick says:

      Thank you for the info on Christian’s coach in 1978.. I could not find coaching listings for some schools in late seventies, as the CIF San Diego office does not have directories for those years. I also corrected the Grossmont-West Hills standings. For some reason the 5 teams in the Grossmont North played only three league games instead of four, so there’s no round-robin format.

  5. Absolutely awesome site. I just discovered it by accident right now. Love it. I am 2nd generation born, raised, played and coached in the South Bay of San Diego. I have always loved the CIF-SDS history. I’ll be spending a lot of time (I already have spent a lot) surfing this site.
    Thank you,

    Justin J. Schaeffer
    Resource Teacher
    Head Football Coach
    Murrieta Mesa High School
    (951) 677-0568 ext. 6421

    GO RAMS!!!!!
    Character, integrity and hard work breed opportunity.
    see us at

    • Rick says:

      Thanks for the very kind words, coach, and for subscribing. We have an article going today on three San Diego Section championship games yesterday.

  6. Bob Dexter says:

    I thought it might have been a misprint. Thanks, Rick for checking -still an impressive offensive show by La Jolla.

    • Rick says:

      Impressive indeed, Bob. The 63 points is a La Jolla record for one game, surpassing a romp in which it whacked Kearny, 61-20, in 2002. Last week’s win also ties a 57-0 rout of Coronado in 1990 for largest point differential. Adding to that, back in the heyday of Dan Berry and Butch Taylor the Vikings beat San Dieguito, 57-7 in 1961,. Those are the three highest scores in school history. La Jolla has been punishing U. City for years, including 56-7 in 2012.

  7. Bob Dexter says:

    I saw a score from last Friday. There were no details just the line score. At the end of 3 quarters La Jolla and University City were tied 0-0. The final was La Jolla 63, University City 6. High school quarters I believe are 12 minutes. How did La Jolla score 9 touchdowns in 12 minutes? (9 one play drives?) Does anyone have details on this game?

    • Rick says:

      I wondered about that, too, but a check with Jesse Kearney at UT-San Diego revealed that the actual score by quarters was La Jolla, 19-20-10-14–63 and U. City, 6-0-0-0–6. Sixty-three points in one quarter? That’s 9 touchdowns and 9 PAT attempts and 3 PAT in 12 minutes I suppose anything’s possible. Perhaps it’s happened in 8-man or 6-man. Thanks for writing, Bob.

  8. Jasen Boyens says:

    Orange Glen has gone the way of Sweetwater, Morse, Lincoln; victims of changing demographics over time. For OG it all started to fall apart when Valley Center HS opened, and the Patriots lost all those corn-fed farm boys! So many good players came out of VC, as evidenced by Rob Gilster’s sustained success with the Jaguars. Orange Glen was also victimized by the Escondido School District, whose board members were largely Escondido HS alums – implementation of a free-for-all transfer policy within the district, intended to bolster the Cougars’ fortunes. Despite the courageous Early family’s laudable decision to keep Andy and Austin home at OG, in hopes of bolstering Patriot fortunes, the football program remains decrepit. Dick Disney was a great man whose impact on many lives, including my own, continues through the decades.

    • Rick says:

      Jasen, very interesting comments. You could add several other city schools to that mix. Orange Glen did have it going. I think there have been 3 or 4 NFL players, Salisbury, Lenny McGill, I think, and maybe a couple others.

  9. BoyensJC says:


    Thought you might find this photo [ed: of the OG QB club] interesting;

    We had some pretty good quarterbacks come through Orange Glen for a spell there in the late 70’s through the early 1990’s. Lead by Salisbury, of course, but Doug Disney (and his older brother, Rick), Jon Mitchell, and Cree Morris were all San Diego CIF.

    • Rick says:

      What’s happened with Orange Glen football? Patriots had it going back then. I remember Dick Dinesy as an all-star at Point Loma, then later as an assistant for Chick Embrey at Escondido before he opened O.G. Last I heard Sean Salkisbury was in radio in Chicago. Thanks for writing.

      • Buzz Ponce says:

        Dick Disney also was the first varsity football coach at San Marcos High School when it opened in 1961, following his stint at Escondido HS with Chick Embrey. He was at San Marcos (which was then in the Escondido Union HS District) until Orange Glen launched in 1962-63. He was an incredible coach, and an incredible person. After his retirement at OG, he was elected to the Escondido Union HS District Board of Trustees where he served until his death in 1997.
        RIP, Coach Disney.

      • Rick says:

        I met Disney when he assisted Chick with the 1960 team that won the first San Diego section championship. I always wondered how he got to Escondido, considering he was a big name in high school in the city at Point Loma. thanks for writing, Buzz.

  10. Bob Dexter says:

    Rick, Thank you for the kind comments. Coach Leslie was definitely the right man to get our program going. That 1971 season was a lot of fun!

  11. Bob Dexter says:


    Regarding your article on the best defenses in history, the 1971 Patrick Henry Patriots went 11-1 outscoring the opposition 267-53 an average of 4.4 points. We had 5 shutouts and never allowed more than 8 points in any one game. We lost to Grossmont 8-7 in the championship game but it was a great season.

    I became aware of your great website from Henrik.

    • Rick says:

      Bob: The writer posed a question involving only “championship” teams. I researched from that angle but should have taken it further and included all teams. A one-point loss to Grossmont doesn’t dim the luster of that 1971 Patrick Henry club. Coach Russ Leslie got the new school up and running very quickly. The Patriots reached the San Diego Section finals in their third varsity season and were in the finals three times from 1971-74.

  12. malcolm pusey says:

    Great info. But I would like read tidbits for every season. How about a list of the greatest players (by position), teams and coaches of all time?
    I am just trying to help.

    • Rick says:

      Malcolm, great idea. I have been thinking somewhat along those lines. I guess I would start with Charlie Powell at one of the ends although he played fullback one year at San Diego High. Jack Mashin and Duane Maley would be near the top of my coaches’ list, but I’m first concentrating on the yearly reviews and the yearly scoring leaders. Are you related to Duane Pusey, 13-foot pole vaulter at Grossmont in 1949?

  13. Rick says:

    Mark: I’m not familiar with Jimmy Anderson. Ernie Zampese’s son, Ken, is on the Bengals staff and graduated from University High. I think Dante Scarnecchia played at Cal Western, later USIU.
    I see Lenny arevalo at breakfast every Thursday, so tell me his story and I’ll surprise him. Were you with Shacklett and Mendoza at Morse?

    • Mark Monroe says:

      Len’s story is set in 1973 the first year Jimmy Anderson was hired to teach at Morse and coach the defensive line for Shack. While the two of them were out for a jog around the neighborhood Jim asked Len “where do you see yourself in 10 years” Len replied “here @ Morse, I like what I am doing, why where are you gonna be?” Jim says ” I am going to be coaching in the NFL” and he still is as one of the longest tenured assistant coaches in the NFL. Coach Anderson is the innovative mind behind the warm up Morse would do before and after games known as “Tiger Jays” A tradition that has lasted from 1974 to 2011. Len can tell you the story about Dante. Bob, Len and I recently had lunch with Coach Anderson and Len told that story. Yes I had the pleasure of working with Coach Shack, Mendoza and Arevalo at Morse for 24 years. It was kind of weird working there since I graduated in 1971 and knew them as my idols. Thanks for the reply, Coach Monroe.

  14. Mark Monroe says:

    Wow great job! I worked at Morse for 24 years and have a story Len Arevalo likes to tell about Cincinnati running back coach Jimmy Anderson and New England line coach Dante Scarnecchia. Interested?

  15. Todd Tobias says:

    Great stuff, Rick! I will be reading daily. I bet I’ll find some good crossover stuff for potential AFL stories!

  16. John Walker says:

    Will you be adding a section for All-CIF and All-League players. The reason I’m asking is because I was a 2nd team All Eastern League linebacker for Patrick Henry in 1984 and I lost the newspaper clipping.

    • Rick says:

      John: I’m trying to get these narratives written for each year, plus finding scoring leaders for every year. In time I hope to get to the “all” teams. Thanks for writing.

  17. Albert Oliver says:

    Hi Rick. I played in the 1961 Lincoln/ Saints game losing 13 to 6 to Lincoln.
    Your parents Doug & Jane knew mine Al & Virginia Oliver ( Both Dads in the fishing industry).
    Just wanted to say hi.
    Still live in San Diego..( El Cajon).
    Al Oliver…12/07/2012

    • Rick says:

      Al: Good to hear from you. I see Ron Cota and John Nettles often. I think that was the game in which John made a one-handed catch. Willie Shaw and Vernus Ragsdale combined for about 225 yards rushing in that game.

  18. Richard Houk says:

    Just discovered your wonderful site (thanks to Don Norcross). It is wonderful to see a comprehensive listing of San Diego County’s proud history. I was a part of the 1965 San Dieguito Mustangs and noticed that you may have the wrong score entered for the San Dieguito/Poway game. I believe San Dieguito won, 19-14. It is entered correctly on San Dieguito’s record but not Poway’s. Thank you for putting all of this together!

    • Rick says:

      Richard: The score has been corrected. Game played Sept. 24, 1965. I’ll come up with the scoring summary and send. Thanks for commenting.

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